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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Why do some PC keyboards have lowercase letters?

Typically, letters on computer keyboards are capitalized. However, there is a type of PC that stands out from other PCs because it uses lowercase letters instead of uppercase letters. This is a PC called a Chromebook, which uses Google’s Chrome OS operating system rather than Windows or Mac OS.

In a blog post published this year, Google explains why Chromebook keyboards are different from keyboards on other computers. Alexander Kuscher, senior director on the ChromeOS team who helped design the first Chromebook, explains that during this design phase, the Google team wanted to make computers more accessible.

“We’re all too accustomed to keyboards having all uppercase letters, but when you go into a text field to start a document and start typing on a traditional keyboard, the keys don’t match what appears on the keyboard screen.”“When users press the letter “D” on their keyboard, a “d” appears on the screen,” says Donny Reynolds, senior product manager on the Chromebook team. Google wanted the Chromebook’s design to stand out: “Press the button, and that’s what you get.”

google chromebook
© Google

an archaic system

For Google, printing uppercase letters on computer keyboards dates back to 1874’s Remington No. 1, which only supported uppercase letters. It is a design inherited from very old typewriters such as 1. To deliver a more modern keyboard, Google not only chose lowercase letters, but also decided to ignore many keys, including Caps Lock.

It’s also important to remember that unlike Windows or macOS, Chrome OS is a young operating system. The first Chromebook prototype, the CR-48, was released in 2010. At that time, Google had already released its Android operating system, which primarily relied on a touchscreen keyboard rather than a physical keyboard. Smartphones with physical keyboards are still on the market.

In fact, Google has adopted lowercase letter representation by default since the first version of the Android keyboard. Below is a picture of the first Android smartphone, the G1 or HTC Dream.

HTC Dream
© Google
  • Windows PC keyboards have uppercase letters, but Chromebooks have lowercase letters.
  • In the post, Google explains why it made this choice.
  • Chromebook keyboards don’t even have a Caps Lock key other than lowercase letters.
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